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American Desks

Dating to at least the 15th century, desks remained specialized tools for the literate few until the end of the 17th century, when an explosion of printed material prompted an interest in literacy among the middle and upper classes.

Early in the development of American desks, a wide variety were created, from simple pine versions made by local cabinetmakers to finely-crafted examples in the Hepplewhite, Chippendale, and Sheratoby styles. Well-known period furniture-makers included Goddard-Townsend, John and Thomas Seymour, and Duncan Phyfe.

In the 20th century, American design began moving away from traditional designs built with oak, walnut, mahogany, and maple, into to a more contemporary direction that saw the rise of modern designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Jens Risom, and later Milo Baughman.

American desks are some of the more popular and widely-purchased pieces in the Western world. Auctions are ideal sources for a variety of them in every size, shape, and style.


Quick Facts

  • In March 2015 a Dunlap country-style, slant-front curly maple desk went for more than three times its estimate at Garth’s
  • A desk that once sat in U.S. President Thomas Jefferson’s plantation in Poplar Forest, Virginia, sold at auction in 2013 for $65,000
  • In 2013 at Sotheby’s, a one-of-a-kind aluminum desk crafted by Neal Feay Studio sold for charity (to fight AIDS in Africa) for $1.7 million

Recommended Items at Auction

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United Furniture Corp Mid Century Modern Desk
Apr 20, 10:00 AM MST
United Furniture Corp Mid Century Modern Desk
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$2509 Bids
1950s walnut 'Executive Office Group' desk by George Nelson for Herman Miller (75 x 175 x 90cm)
Apr 18, 10:00 AM AEST
1950s walnut 'Executive Office Group' desk by George Nelson for Herman Miller (75 x 175 x 90cm)
by Lawsons
Est: AUD1,200- AUD1,800
AUD909 Bids
THOMAS MOSER CHERRY DESK 51 1/4 x 59 x 40 1/2 in. (130.2 x 149.9 x 102.9 cm.)
Apr 23, 1:00 PM EDT
THOMAS MOSER CHERRY DESK 51 1/4 x 59 x 40 1/2 in. (130.2 x 149.9 x 102.9 cm.)
by Potomack Company
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
Furniture: American desk with mahogany shutters early 20th C
Apr 21, 1:30 PM CEST
Furniture: American desk with mahogany shutters early 20th C
by Monsantic.com
Est: €100- €150
€1000 Bids
Early American writing desk/table
May 06, 9:00 AM EDT
Early American writing desk/table
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $10- $1,000
$100 Bids
Ethan Allen desk
Apr 16, 9:00 AM EDT
Ethan Allen desk
by Wehrly's Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$20 Bids
Florence Knoll Executive Desk Ca.1955
Jun 01, 10:00 AM EDT
Florence Knoll Executive Desk Ca.1955
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$500 Bids
AMERICAN WALNUT TABLE-TOP DESK WITH BIRD'S EYE MAPLE INTERIOR
Apr 27, 9:00 AM EDT
AMERICAN WALNUT TABLE-TOP DESK WITH BIRD'S EYE MAPLE INTERIOR
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Conant Ball - American Modern Desk
Apr 27, 10:00 AM EDT
Conant Ball - American Modern Desk
by Regency Auction House
Est: $400- $500
$2000 Bids
Stickley Antique Style Desk Early 1920s Oak Quartersawn Oak
Apr 26, 6:00 PM EDT
Stickley Antique Style Desk Early 1920s Oak Quartersawn Oak
by Auction by Daum
Est: $1,200- $1,800
$4000 Bids
Salem, Mass. Chippendale Mahogany Slant-Front Desk
Apr 21, 10:00 AM EDT
Salem, Mass. Chippendale Mahogany Slant-Front Desk
by Devin Moisan Auctioneers, Inc.
Est: $700- $1,000
$3500 Bids
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Model 5472 Mahogany Desk
May 05, 12:00 PM EDT
Edward Wormley for Dunbar Model 5472 Mahogany Desk
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $4,000- $6,000
$5000 Bids
Rare and Early Gustav Stickley #417 Oak Desk
Apr 21, 10:00 AM EDT
Rare and Early Gustav Stickley #417 Oak Desk
by Devin Moisan Auctioneers, Inc.
Est: $4,000- $6,000
$2,0000 Bids
Karl Springer Laquered Goatskin Parchment Desk
Apr 17, 5:00 PM EDT
Karl Springer Laquered Goatskin Parchment Desk
by Abington Auction Gallery
Est: $500- $700
$2500 Bids
Stickley Desk with Arts and Crafts Chair
May 09, 10:00 AM EDT
Stickley Desk with Arts and Crafts Chair
by New England Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$500 Bids
Modern Walnut Pedestal Desk
Apr 26, 10:00 AM EDT
Modern Walnut Pedestal Desk
by Nye & Company
Est: $50- $25,000
$200 Bids
Victorian Davenport Desk
Apr 18, 9:00 AM PDT
Victorian Davenport Desk
by Abell Auction
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
PERIOD AMERICAN SLANT FRONT DESK
Apr 21, 11:00 AM EDT
PERIOD AMERICAN SLANT FRONT DESK
by Americana Auctions
Est: $500- $700
$2500 Bids
ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, SHENANDOAH VALLEY OF VIRGINIA CHIPPENDALE-STYLE WALNUT SLANT-FRONT DESK
Apr 27, 9:00 AM EDT
ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, SHENANDOAH VALLEY OF VIRGINIA CHIPPENDALE-STYLE WALNUT SLANT-FRONT DESK
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
North Shore, Mass. Chippendale Birch Desk
Apr 21, 10:00 AM EDT
North Shore, Mass. Chippendale Birch Desk
by Devin Moisan Auctioneers, Inc.
Est: $700- $1,000
$3500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell American Desks


Devin Moisan Auctioneers, Inc.

Devin Moisan Auctioneers, Inc.

Potomack Company

Potomack Company

Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates

Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates

Eldred's

Eldred's